Figuring Out the Public Transportation System in Miami

I was recently in Miami, Florida to visit a friend of mine who lives there. Before my trip when my friend and I were going back and forth trying to find dates that worked for both of us, after months of discussions, we finally found a week in April that worked. Mostly. She said she would still need to go in to work two of those days but I said, “No problem. I can just take an Uber or something one of those days and hang out at your pool the other day.”

Then I did a little research and found that to get an Uber from her house to the touristy parts of Miami was expensive. Like $35 each way before tip expensive. I thought it probably wasn’t worth all that plus the price of admission to a museum and lunch for myself and daughter. Even though she only lives about 20 miles from Miami Beach, which doesn’t seem that far to me, the price of a shared ride service seemed a bit much.

Undeterred, I began looking into public transportation and quickly got overwhelmed. It would be simple if my friend lived closer to downtown Miami or Miami Beach but because she was literally on the opposite end of where I wanted to go, yet still technically in Miami, it was complicated. Looking up directions with the handy website, I saw my options: 1) I could take a taxi for around the same price as above-mentioned Uber, 2) I could rent a car (seemed silly to rent a car just to go to a museum), 3) I could walk there (yeah, I’m all about walking but even that’s too far for me), 4) I could take a combination of public transportation (bus, train for $1-3 each way), or 5) I could drive (my friend only has one car that she needed for work).

Photo of Metromover in downtown Miami. Photo credit Time Out

The only reasonable option to me seemed to be option 4. I saw there was a bus stop less than a mile from my friend’s house that I could walk to so I checked the bus schedule. There were two bus pickup times scheduled for the next morning that would work so I chose the later one, still not that late, at 8:30. If I missed that bus, though, there wasn’t another one scheduled until late in the afternoon, which wouldn’t work because I knew taking the bus would take around an hour just to get to downtown Miami simply because of the horrific traffic that is all-consuming there.

I would basically take the bus all the way over to the very last stop, which would drop me off in downtown Miami, where I would just cross the street to get to the metro rail station at Government Center Train Station. I would ride the metro rail just a few stops until l reached the Metromover Station, which would take me across the street from the museum. Easy, right?

The night before my big adventure, I double-checked the route with Google Maps and after being given multiple options with the public transportation option, I chose what seemed like the “best” option, one that agreed with the Rome2rio option. I decided to follow Maps step-by-step route, which included all 52 bus stops along the way and hope for the best.

That morning before I left my friend’s house, I opened Maps, only to see the first bus was running almost an hour late, which meant the second bus was also running almost an hour late. No worries, it just gave me a little more time to eat breakfast before I’d have to leave for the short walk to the bus stop.

Sure enough, the bus arrived pretty close to what Google Maps said it would. Hoping I could just pay for my bus ticket and my daughter’s onboard (which is what it looked like from the website), we got on the bus and I asked if I could pay our fare with a credit card. The driver said yes and even told me my daughter was eligible for the reduced student fare, so I paid $2.50 for myself and $1.25 for her, and we both found seats. Fortunately our driver only stopped if someone was waiting at a stop, meaning we didn’t actually stop at all 52 bus stops. Unfortunately, traffic was insane and it was bumper-to-bumper traffic for quite some time.

After about an hour (which is what Maps predicted), we got off the bus and I followed the walking directions to the metro rail station at Government Center Train Station. It was a little confusing once inside the train station, but I followed the signage pointing the way to the direction we needed according to Maps and found where we needed to go. I wasn’t sure if I needed to buy a physical ticket at the kiosks or not so I asked someone working there, who said I could just swipe my credit card at the turnstile but that I would have to use a different card for myself than my daughter because you couldn’t pay for multiple rides simultaneously on the same card. No problem, I handed her a credit card to swipe, while I used another to swipe for myself.

We only took the metro a little ways before our stop, where we got on the Metromover. This station was conveniently across from where we got off the metro, and it was even free for all riders. The Metromover is just a smaller version of the metro, so instead of seats with dozens of seats and multiple train cars like the metro, the Metromover only fit maybe 10-15 people and was only one train car, with only a handful of seats (though I did see some with two or three train cars together). We rode the Metromover a couple of stops until we reached our stop and got off. The museum was conveniently across the street from the stop. We made it! I did the same thing on the way back to my friend’s home, only in reverse.

Downtown Miami

What I’ve learned about public transportation in an area you’re not familiar with: start with Rome2rio then double check on Google Maps if you’re taking public transportation. Go to the public transportation website of the city you’re visiting to further clarify the bus and/or train routes and educate yourself on the routes and times. Don’t be afraid to ask locals questions and for help. I’ve taken public transportation in big cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and in other countries and inevitably the people I’ve asked for help have been immensely helpful. I’ve even been asked by locals if I needed help when I must have had a confused look on my face, and they happily helped me on my way.

Are you a pro at taking public transportation when you travel or are you overwhelmed by it all and prefer to just walk or take an Uber or taxi? Or are you like me and still figuring it out as you go but are by no means a pro? Do. you use rome2rio when you’re planning travel? Do you have any tips for using public transportation?

Happy travels!


Book Review- The Longest Race. Inside the Secret World of Abuse, Doping, and Deception on Nike’s Elite Running Team by Kara Goucher with Mary Pilon

It seems like so many elite runners are coming out with books lately and each one has their own unique story. This book by elite runner Kara Goucher is a page-turner filled with her personal running journey but also the scandal that happened when she was running with the Oregon Project. But first some background on the authors.

Kara Goucher is a three-time NCAA champion, two-time Olympian, silver medalist in the 10,000 meters at the 2007 World Championship, and podium finisher at the Boston and New York marathons. She currently is a running analyst for NBC Sports and cohost of two podcasts, the Clean Sport Collective which promotes fair play in sports and Nobody Asked Us with Des & Kara, with elite runner Des Linden.

Mary Pilon is a New York Times bestselling author of The Monopolists and The Kevin Show. She cowrote and cohosted the audio series Twisted: The Story of Larry Nassar and the Women Who Took Him Down. She previously covered sports at The New York Times and business at The Wall Street Journal. She is a story producer on BS High, HBO’s documentary about the Bishop Sycamore High School football scandal.

The Longest Race is written in chronological order of Goucher’s life and goes back to when she won her first race at the age of 6, a one-mile race her grandfather took her to. After that race, she was hooked on running. She briefly lived in New York and New Jersey until her father was killed by a drunk driver when she was three years old. Her mom moved back to Duluth, Minnesota along with Kara and her two sisters to be with family.

Goucher tells of her many wins on the cross country and track teams but also her difficulty to be recruited by a college after struggling with slowing times her senior year of high school. She ended up running at the University of Colorado where she met Adam Goucher, who she would end up marrying. Adam was an accomplished runner as well, with many track and cross country titles and an Olympian.

During her fifth year of college, Kara was the women’s NCAA cross country champion in the fall but didn’t do as well at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the spring due to a knee injury and feared no one would offer her a sponsorship to go pro. However, John Capriotti from Nike offered her a four-year contract, which she excitedly took.

Despite struggling with injuries, both Kara and Adam were offered the chance to move to Portland, Oregon to be a part of the newly formed Oregon Project coached by Alberto Salazar, a legend in the running world. He had earned many running titles including Olympian in 1980 and 1984 but his most famous race was the “Duel in the Sun” showdown where he out kicked Dick Beardsley in the last 50 yards of the 1982 Boston Marathon and set a new Boston record just before he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital for an IV drip of six liters of saline solution.

Goucher tells the story how Salazar treated the runners on the Oregon Project as family and was a father figure to herself and Adam, and seemingly the other runners as well. But little by little, Salazar’s shady side surfaced. Goucher mentions sexually charged comments made by her coach and other men working for Nike, her coach’s excessive drinking, and even massages given by Salazar himself, despite the fact that he was not a trained massage therapist and Nike had no shortage of those on staff.

Those massages did indeed turn completely inappropriate on two separate occasions, according to Goucher, when she and her coach flew to races in other countries, basically when his fingers traveled a bit too far. She was so shocked she thought it must have been a mistake and neither said nor did anything at the time to anyone. It was only years later that she admitted to others what had happened.

In addition to inappropriate comments and behavior mentioned in the book, there were several times when Salazar did some questionable at best things when it came to athletes on the Oregon Project and certain medications not sanctioned by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It wasn’t until 2014, after the Gouchers had left the Oregon Project that a reporter with ProPublica reached out to Adam with suspicions about the Oregon Project and doping. What followed turned out to be an enormous scandal covering athletes from all over the world.

Many runners were stripped of former medals due to doping, while others, like Kara were being upgraded. Although Kara had been awarded the bronze medal at the 2007 World Championship in Osaka, the silver medalist was found guilty of unauthorized drug use, meaning Kara was then the silver medalist. An anonymous whistleblower from within the International Association of Athletics Federations provided British and German journalists with files on 12,000 blood samples from 5,000 athletes who had competed between 2001 and 2012. It went deeper than doping. IAAF president Lamine Diack, along with other IAAF officials, were charged with money laundering and corruption.

There are many more details covered in the book, too many for me to discuss here. In fact, I found the book so accurately detailed at first I thought it was unusual, until I remembered the intense interviews the Gouchers underwent when they were interviewed by the FBI and other groups before the doping scandal with Salazar and others broke. It was obvious Kara kept careful notes of everything, no doubt in her running journals but also private journals, as she mentions in the book.

In the end, this book just made me sad for the sport and how tarnished it became in the 2000’s when the scandal broke. It also made me sad that Kara suffered in silence for so many years and how she had to endure the inappropriate comments not only from Salazar but other male executives at Nike, and her poor treatment by the company especially during her pregnancy, which she details in the book. I should note that both Kara and Adam Goucher were not found guilty of any inappropriate use of performance-enhancing drugs or any other wrongdoing during any investigation. Alberto Salazar, on the other hand, was suspended for doping allegations then barred for life from coaching by SafeSport for sexually assaulting an athlete (Kara, although she was not personally named in the report).

That being said, I did find the book intriguing and found the pages flying by as I read them. Kara Goucher’s story is a unique one, and one that I would like to say didn’t happen to other runners, but two other female runners from the Oregon Project were also effected negatively by Salazar. Mary Cain came forward and said that Salazar shamed her for her weight in front of other Oregon Project team members and Amy Yoder Begley said Salazar told her he was kicking her off the team because she had “the biggest butt on the starting line.”

I can only hope that because of the courage of these women to come forward, do the hard thing, and speak up, things can only get better in the sport. Unfortunately this kind of thing probably happens more than anyone realizes. When the runners are pros and their career and salary are at stake, it’s difficult if not seemingly impossible to speak up against their coaches, especially ones with male-dominated companies like Nike.

Kara Goucher says she received death threats and endured negative comments when she came forward about Salazar. Despite all of the heartache running has brought her, she says she still is in love with running and is hopeful things will get better as long as people refuse to remain quiet when it comes to doping or sexual abuse. I would like to be hopeful as well and think this book sets a precedent for the ability to be more open and be able to speak up.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Is it on your list of books to read?

Happy running!


Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida

I’m a huge fan of botanical gardens and try to visit one everywhere I travel, if possible. When I told my friend who I was visiting in Miami how much I loved botanical gardens, she said she had just the place for us to go, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. She had a membership because she loved it so much and had been many times so she was happy to show me around.

Where to begin? First off, I should note I can see why this garden was voted best botanical garden in North America by USA Today and best outdoor attraction by Miami New X Times. I’ve been to so many botanical gardens all over the world and this is one of my new favorites.

The fact that even though I had been to Miami several times before but never been to this garden is beyond me, but better late than never. The thoughtful layout of the gardens is apparent, as well as how lovingly-tended the grounds are. Even though it was 80 degrees out with high humidity the day I was there, many parts of the garden are shaded so it was quite comfortable walking around.

I wouldn’t have thought a botanical garden near Miami, Florida would be capable of having such diversity of plants and flowers but I was wrong. Granted, the key word here is “tropical,” since everything here grows in a tropical environment. Of course there are palm trees and a palmetum, a fern glade, plants from the Caribbean, a children’s garden, a butterfly garden and conservatory, arid and succulent garden, plants found in Madagascar, a rainforest, plus 11 lakes and 7 pools, including the Sibley Victoria Pool, the Tropical Plant Conservatory and Rare Plant House Pools, Amphitheater pool, the Sunken Garden pool and waterfall, and more. Between my friend’s iPhone, my camera, and my daughter’s camera, the three of us amassed a crazy number of photos and it was difficult to choose which ones to include here.

Some of my favorite areas of the garden are the butterfly garden, with the most densely packed area of butterflies I’ve ever seen, the rainforest with literally thousands of orchids of all colors, sizes, and shapes, and the tropical plant conservatory with some of the most unique flowers and plants in the world. We were able to walk around and see every area of the garden in a couple or so hours. At 83 acres with just over 2 miles of paved walking paths, if you’re limited on your feet, you may want to take the tram.

The tram tour is free but it is first-come, first-served and weather dependent, and even though it was operating, we decided to skip it and just walk around on our own. All of the plants and trees were well-marked with their common and biological name, which I appreciated, as I have a bizarre memory for plants’ names and like to expand it when I can (even though I can’t remember what groceries to buy without a list every time).

In addition to a variety of plants at the garden, there are of course the butterflies but also nearly 200 species of birds have been reported, according to, where people self-report bird spotting. Plus, there are fish in many of the water areas and six varieties of lizards have been reported. I personally spotted four different types of lizards so I have no doubt there are more since I couldn’t have possibly seen them all.

Check the event calendar before you go because there are a variety of activities at the garden throughout the year including lectures, yoga, dog walks, cooking classes, bird watching, and art classes, just to name a few. There is also a cafe, The Glasshouse Cafe by Le Basque that serves soups, sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, and drinks.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets range from $24.95 for adults to $11.95 for children ages 6-17 and parking is free. Promotions and discounts are available, just check the website for a full list:

Do you also enjoy botanical gardens? Have you been to this one? What is one of your favorite botanical gardens?

Happy travels!


An Introduction to Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)

Although I consider myself primarily a runner and I’ve classified this as a running-related post, stand up paddle boarding is excellent cross training for runners or is great fun for people who have no interest at all in running. I first discovered stand up paddle boarding on a trip to Hawaii a few years ago and I fell in love with the sport. After that vacation, I sought out SUP rentals when I could while on vacation. One of my favorite places I went paddle boarding was in the crystal clear waters of Grand Teton National Park because the scenery was unbelievable and the water was relatively calm. (Exploring Grand Teton National Park by Water- Stand Up Paddle Boarding in String Lake and Leigh Lake, Hot Springs, and Floating Down the Snake River)

Gorgeous Grand Teton National Park

I am fortunate enough to have several lakes near my home that rent paddle boards, and one place is even free, which I think is amazing. The summer before covid (2019), I went paddle boarding many times and since autumn is mild here in central North Carolina, I was able to go as late as October. Then after all of the shutdowns and everything changed because of the pandemic, I was no longer able to go paddle boarding for quite some time. I missed it.

Finally in late 2021, I saw a paddle board for sale online that was hugely discounted and I jumped on the chance and bought it. My teenage daughter also got her own board as a Christmas present that year. Armed with boards of our own, I was determined the summer of 2022 would include plenty of time out on the lakes for us. Of course life often doesn’t turn out how we think it will and she ended up in and out of the hospital for much of her summer break.

Finally, in August when she was able to paddle board with me, we took our boards out and ended up going twice in three days. After our second time out that weekend, she mentioned how much we had learned about paddle boarding over the years. I told her it was funny she should mention that because I was thinking the same thing. I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned about stand up paddle boarding over the years.

SUP in Hilton Head Island, SC, where I saw dolphins!
  1. Lessons are optional. The very first time I went paddle boarding, my “lesson” consisted of this: “Start out on your knees and when you feel confident enough to stand, do so slowly.” Um, great, thanks. Turns out, there’s really not much more to it than that, at least for beginners. You pretty quickly figure the rest out. You paddle on the opposite side of the board you want to turn and if you want to go straight, you have to alternate paddling on either side, just like with a kayak. More on paddling specifics in a bit. Being on your knees on the board gives you more stability. You also want to center your body on the board as best as you can. When you’re standing, put a slight bend in your knees for more stability.
  2. Never paddle by yourself. This is similar to the never swim by yourself rule. It’s for safety in case anything should happen. Take it seriously, even if you’re going out on a calm lake. You never know what could happen.
  3. Always wear a life vest. Another safety rule you should always follow even if life vests aren’t required where you’re paddling. Enough said.
  4. Mark your starting/ending point. If your starting and ending point isn’t beside a huge landmark or something that really stands out from the surroundings, mark it with a brightly colored flag or piece of clothing, rag, etc. You may think when you head out onto the water that you’ll remember where you need to come back to, but believe me, a cove in the water can look very different coming back than it did going out. I once went right by my starting/ending point in a cove because all of the trees looked the same from the water. Only after pulling up Google Maps on my phone was I able to figure out which cove I needed to go back to. This brings me to my next point.
  5. Bring your phone in a dry bag. You never know when you might need your phone. Dry bags are cheap and come in all shapes and sizes. I have three, one is for a phone only, one is a bit bigger and can fit a phone along with keys, and the other is big enough to fit a phone, keys, a couple of lunches and a water bottle. Many boards come with at least one dry bag when you buy the board.
  6. Bring a patch kit. Should your board get a leak, a patch kit can fix it until you see just how bad the damage is (or fix it for good if you’re lucky). Most boards come with a patch kit but it won’t do you any good if you’ve left it at home.
  7. Paddling can be difficult. If it’s a windy day, paddling with the wind at your back will feel like a breeze (pun intended) but when you turn around, you’ll feel like you’re climbing up a mountain against a wind storm. Paddling on your knees will give you more power than standing up so you may need to at least temporarily get on your knees until you get past the hardest parts or can go in a different direction. Also, sometimes, you need to turn around completely, meaning turn around in a big circle. To do this, paddle in the opposite direction hard to get the board to go backwards until you can turn the board around completely. I’ve had to do this several times when it was really windy to get out of the wind currents that were pulling me in the opposite direction than I wanted to go. It’s also immensely easier to paddle in a sheltered area on a small lake vs. in the open on a large lake or even more difficult, in the ocean.
  8. Try both hard-shell boards and inflatable boards. When I started out, I thought I would hate inflatable boards but it turns out, I like them both. The one I bought is an inflatable board because they are cheaper and are easier to store than hard-shell boards. They are definitely hard work to inflate them, but I’ve been able to inflate mine and my daughter’s board (she does most of the pumping for hers) and it’s not like I’m a super-strong woman, though I am in good shape. Another tip I’ve learned is to wear gym workout gloves when I pump up the boards since I don’t have much hand strength and it’s just easier for me to use the pump with gloves on. I am going to look for a foot pump and see if that’s easier but I haven’t done so yet.
  9. Limit your time on the water initially. I would say for your first time, I’d recommend no longer than an hour total on the water. Stand up paddle boarding is quite the core/leg/ankle/shoulder workout and if you go out for say three hours your first time, you’ll be exhausted. Even going out for an hour will be pretty tiring if you’re new to SUP.
  10. Wear athletic clothes. Sure, you could wear a bathing suit which is what I wore my first time, but personally I would rather wear athletic clothes when I go paddle boarding for a few reasons. 1) If you fall into the water, athletic clothes will dry quickly 2) They will cover you more than just a bathing suit so that’s more protection from the sun 3) I personally consider SUP more of an athletic activity than a lying around in the sun activity so I’m more comfortable working out in athletic clothes than a bathing suit. Yes, I know a swim suit would also dry quickly and many people are avid swimmers but I still prefer athletic clothes for SUP.
  11. Make sure you wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Don’t forget the sun will reflect off the water, exposing you even more than if you were on land, so you will want to be protected against the sun. This is true even on cloudy days.
  12. The bigger the board, the sturdier it will be. Most SUPs are 10-12 feet long and 32-34 inches wide, although some are shorter and some are longer. You do lose some speed as you increase the length of the board but for most people that would be negligible. There are also differences in the width of the board and inflatables tend to be a bit thicker and more buoyant. This is important for the weight of the paddler, so if you’re a heavier person, pay attention to weight capacity of the board.
  13. If you’re going to a place that’s new to you, check with a local SUP outfitter regarding water conditions. I thought about taking our boards on a recent trip to Asheville but decided against it after I was told by a local outfitter it’s not recommended to paddle an out-and-back route there because of the river currents. I would have had to arrange for someone to pick me up at a different location further down the river and I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and expense. You also need to check tide levels online before you go to make sure the tides aren’t too low or high when you’ll be on the water.
  14. Don’t try to strap a board to the roof of your car without a roof rack or straps made specifically for boards. I learned this one the hard way when I thought I could just use multiple bungee cords to secure my board to the roof of my car, only to see my board fly off the roof of my car and land squarely in the road behind me. Fortunately I was able to grab my board out of the road before any cars hit it, but it could have caused an accident if traffic that day had been worse.
SUP in St. Petersburg, Florida with my daughter

I think that’s pretty much everything I’ve learned. Well, maybe one last thing is to just try it and don’t be intimidated by it! I’ve heard so many people say, “Oh, I could never do stand up paddle boarding. My balance is terrible” or something along those lines. I say, just try it and see. Maybe you’ll hate it or maybe you’ll love it but either way you won’t know until you try it. And it’s not the end of the world if you fall in the water; you just pull yourself back up on your board and keep on trying. In fact, some people recommend falling off your board early on just to show to yourself it’s not a big deal to get back on your board.

Have you ever tried stand up paddle boarding? If so, what tip would you add to my list? Have you wanted to try SUP but haven’t yet?

Happy paddling!


Everglades National Park

I recently had the opportunity to visit Everglades National Park in Florida again, for what was my fourth time. Each time I’ve been there, I’ve been able to explore a little more of the park which covers 1.5 million acres. On previous trips to the park, I’ve taken airboat rides and just walked around but this time I took a tram tour, which was fun and educational since our guide was absolutely filled with knowledge about everything Everglades-related. At the end of our tour we came upon an alligator trying to catch a turtle, a scene that was utterly out of Nat Geo, with the turtle desperately trying to escape. In the end, the turtle somehow broke free of the alligator’s grasp and tottled away, its little heart no doubt beating a million miles a minute. I was not able to capture that moment with my camera, as it happened so fast.

Expect to see many alligators and maybe a crocodile or two

There are three accesses to the park: the main entrance located on State Road 9336 in Homestead, which connects visitors to the Royal Palm area and the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park. The Shark Valley entrance is located on U.S. 41 Tamiami Trail in Miami. There is also the Gulf Coast access, but the original structure was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in September of 2017. The temporary Visitor Contact Station was destroyed by Hurricane Ian in 2022. Extremely limited services are here and there is no drinking water. Each of the different access points will give you different perspectives of the park. The Homestead and Gulf Coast entrances are open 24 hours a day but Shark Valley is open from 8:30 am to 6 pm daily. The park itself is open 365 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Since I was coming from Miami on this visit, we took the Shark Valley entrance. The park rangers were limiting access with the one car in, one car out rule and since there were a few cars in line ahead of us when we arrived around 10 am, we had to wait around 30 minutes before we could go in. My friend who lives in Miami and has been to the park countless times said that was common. At this part of the park you can take the tram tour, as I mentioned, and go up the observation tower for great views of the park. You can also rent bicycles to ride along the 15-mile paved road that the tram also takes.

The Homestead area has walking trails and a bookstore in the Earnest F. Coe Visitor Center. The Flamingo area offers boat tours, bicycle, kayak, and canoe rentals, a campground, and walking trails. Although there is no lodging in the park, there are two campgrounds, the Long Pine Key campground located near the Homestead entrance of the park and the Flamingo campground located in Flamingo, 38 miles south of the Homestead entrance.

There is limited food and drinks for sale in the park (just snacks and some drinks at the visitor centers and a food truck in Flamingo), so you should bring your own food and drinks for your time in the park. Bring your own sunscreen as well and bug spray during the rainy season that runs from mid-May to November. Temperatures during rainy season are in the low-90’s, with high humidity, and it rains just about every day, although usually briefly before the storm passes but sometimes for hours. The rest of the year is the dry season, with temperatures ranging from the 50’s to low 70’s and much more comfortable (and no mosquitoes!). I highly recommend going to Everglades during the dry season, as it can be quite uncomfortable during the summer months and the bugs are quite bad, at least according to my friend who lives in Miami. I’ve always been during the dry season.

There are three authorized airboat tour companies within Everglades National Park. All three are located along the Tamiami Trail (Coopertown, Everglades Safari Park, and Gator Park). Coopertown offers shared tours that are 40 minutes long that include a 20 minute reptile show and private tours that are 1, 1 1/2, and 2 hours long. Everglades also offers shared and private tours that include a wildlife nature show, nature trail, observation platform, and exhibits. Likewise, Gator Park has shared and private tours and an alligator wrestling show, which dates back to the Seminole Indians. Check all three websites for coupons and to compare rates, especially if you have a large group and want to do a private tour.

View from the observation tower

What animals can you expect to see in the park? The most commonly seen include alligators and crocodiles, turtles, deer, raccoons, opossums, grey fox, otters, bobcats, frogs and toads, snakes, wading birds like herons and egrets, and fish. There are an astounding amount of animals in the park, many of which you may never see, or perhaps if you’re lucky you might, like manatees and even whales.

Have you been to Everglades National Park? If so, what was your experience like? If not, would you like to go?

Happy travels!


Book Review- Good For a Girl. A Woman Running in a Man’s World by Lauren Fleshman

When I heard former elite runner Lauren Fleshman was coming out with a book, I excitedly checked to see if my local public library had a copy. Sure enough, they had several copies ordered and I put myself on the waitlist. When I picked up the book and skimmed through it walking out to my car I could tell it wasn’t just another book written by a runner. This was Lauren Fleshman’s own personal journey in running, not just some generic story.

I suppose I should back up a bit and not assume everyone is familiar with Lauren Fleshman. She literally grew up running and after graduating high school in Southern California ran on a scholarship at Stanford University. She won many running awards and was 15-time All-American and five-time NCAA champion. She also finished in the top five at the NCAA Cross Country Championship three times.

After graduating with an MA she went pro with Nike and joined Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene, Oregon. Injuries in her foot plagued Fleshman for several years and held her back from ever competing in the Olympics, although she won several other events during this time including the Diamond League events and 5k national championships. In 2012 her contract with Nike expired and she signed on with Oiselle, at the time an up and coming all female athletic company. Fleshman retired from professional running in 2016. In the peak of her running career, she co-founded a company that made energy bars called Picky Bars, which was later sold to Laird Superfoods in 2021. She has also coached many athletes, most notably for Littlewing Athletics, a professional running team sponsored by Oiselle.

Lest you think she lived a perfect life, Fleshman faced the gender bias that was all too common for girls like her growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, which I can also relate to. This idea that women are inferior to men, especially physically, had a profound effect on Fleshman and it’s obviously a theme throughout the book. She also personally experienced the pressure for athletic girls to lose weight to the point of doing irreparable harm to her body, specifically with broken bones caused by amenorrhea in Fleshman’s case. As an adult, she has made it a point to try to reverse the damage done to girls and boys as well in high schools and colleges when it comes to body image in relation to performance in sport.

As she gives specific examples by telling her unique story, it becomes apparent that Fleshman didn’t have an easy life. She had to fight for everything she achieved and her fight was likely even harder since she had minimal female role models or advisors along her journey. Perhaps that’s why it’s so important for her to get her story out to young girls in sport and make sure they are better informed than she was.

Another overarching theme throughout the book is Fleshman’s relationship with her father and her need to make him happy. He was an alcoholic but it seems other than one instance mentioned in the book he wasn’t abusive to his family, at least not physically. Her father seems to have been supportive of Lauren and the rest of his family but she nonetheless had a drive to always do things to make him happy. This is a conclusion she only comes to later in life that is part of her need for perfection, not only in running, but in all aspects of her life.

The pages flew by when I was reading this book and every night before bed, I found myself sucked into her storytelling, wondering what would happen next. At 260 pages, it’s an easy read and isn’t full of advice, running or otherwise, workouts, or anything other than Lauren Fleshman’s own personal journey as a runner. If you can’t tell by now, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for others, especially runners who may be able to relate to her stories a bit more, although you certainly wouldn’t need to be a runner to appreciate her story.

Have you read “Good For a Girl?” and if so, what did you think? Do you like to read memoirs by runners? If you haven’t read this book, is it on your list of ones you want to read?

Happy running!


Highlights of Kailua-Kona in Hawaii- Hiking, Turtles, Coffee, and Historical Sites

Like I mentioned in an earlier post (Hawaii, “The Big Island,” Third Time’s a Charm While Discovering Waimea), the first two times I went to the island of Hawaii, also known as “The Big Island,” I spent most of my time in the area called Kona or Kailua-Kona. For my third and most recent trip to The Big Island I decided it was time to branch out a bit and stay somewhere new so I chose Waimea in the northwest side of the island. That doesn’t mean I didn’t still go to Kona, though. Here are some of the things I saw and did in Kona this time in addition to places I’ve gone to on previous trips.

One of my favorite parks in Kona is the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. There’s a small visitor’s center with the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail behind the parking lot. To the north, you’ll find Kaloko Fishpond (closed to foot traffic), ‘Aimakapa Fishpond, and ‘Ai’opio Fishtrap. The trail also goes to Honokohau Beach, where you can see green sea turtles either eating algae or sunbathing on the lava depending on the time of day. I was there twice on this trip (and I had been there before), the first time in the afternoon and I saw the turtles sunbathing on the rocks and came back the next morning for a ranger talk and the turtles were busy eating algae then.

Another popular activity in Kona is going to the summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, ( and watching the sunset. I did this on a previous trip and this time I noticed how much more expensive it’s gotten, at $300 per person and up, so I chose not to go there again. You have to have a 4×4 vehicle to get to the top so most people go with tour companies. Since it’s almost 14,000 feet above sea level, it’s also quite chilly so if you’re going on your own, you’ll want warm clothes or if you’ll be with a tour group, ask if they provide coats or other warm gear (many do).

There are several places where you can tour coffee farms in Kona. Some charge an admission, some don’t. I chose one that was free,, and thought the one hour walking tour around the farm was thorough and the guide was entertaining while educating everyone about growing and making coffee. We got to sample several different coffees afterwards and there were bags of coffee and some other items for sale. There are also farms with roasting tours where you roast your own coffee beans and take the coffee home with you for a fee, such as Sunshower Coffee Farm, Hala Tree Coffee, and Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, just to name a few.

If you’re not familiar with Kona coffee, it’s similar to wine from Napa Valley in California, where the physical location of the product, coffee beans in this case, drives up the price to an average cost of $20/pound (some brands are much more). In other words, these highly coveted beans are expensive. You’ll often see Kona blend coffees, which mean the beans grown in Kona are blended with beans from other areas. In Hawaii, there has to be at least 10% Kona coffee beans but outside of Hawaii, it could be as low as 1%. Obviously, Kona blends are much less expensive than 100% Kona coffee.

For history buffs, there’s the Hulihe’e Palace, originally built from lava rock. It was the first home to High Chief John Adams Kuakini, brother of Ka‘ahumanu the favorite wife of Kamehameha, and later home to more members of Hawaiian royalty. You can see artifacts from the era of King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi‘olani, such as koa wood furniture, portraits, kapa, feather work, and Hawaiian quilts. Docent-guided tours are available Wednesday-Friday for $22/adult and self-guided tours are on Saturdays for $16/adult.

The Kona Cloudforest Sanctuary sounds like an interesting place to tour, but at $95/adult for a 2 hour tour, that seemed a bit much to me so I’ve never been. There are also one hour Sound Bath Meditation Journeys for $40 and 45-minute Forest Immersion Meditation Journeys (with no availability listed so I don’t know the price for that).

Another place I’ve never been to in Kona but it sounds interesting and unique to me (but also a bit expensive, which is why I didn’t go) is the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. A one hour tour costs $73/person, where there are apparently thousands of seahorses on their 3-acre farm. You can also take surfing lessons at the farm for $250 by professional local surfers.

Are you sensing a trend here? Most things other than the national historical park and coffee farm tour that I took are extremely expensive in Kona. This was one reason I chose to stay outside of Kona for this vacation. While I’m by no means saying things are cheap outside of the Kona area, they certainly seem hyper-inflated in the Kona area. But back to more things to do!

Of course there are black, beige, and a mixture of black and white sand beaches in Kona, many of which have clear water for snorkeling. Most are rocky, though, so either have tough feet or wear water shoes. There are several beaches in Kekaha Kai State Park between the 91- and 90-mile markers on Highway 19 north of Kona. Just be sure to check water conditions before you go because the water could have dangerous rip tides or big waves fine for surfing but not good otherwise.

Believe it or not, there actually is a trail here

Some hiking trails on the Kona Coast include the Makuala O’Oma trail, a 1.5 mile loop trail located at the Makahi Street trailhead. When you arrive at the Makahi Street trailhead, you feel like you’re in the rainforest in the middle of nowhere (which, you essentially are) so it’s a very different feel from the rest of Kona. The trails aren’t marked that great here, so pay attention and watch your footing, as there are more roots and rocks I had seen on a trail in a long time. This is within the Honua‘ula Forest Reserve.

The Captain Cook Monument Trail is 1.8 miles each way, with two paths, one that goes to Kealakekua Bay and one that goes to the monument. Parking is just off the roadside. Side note: Kealakekua Bay has some of the best snorkeling in the area and you can also kayak or standup paddle board here. This is on the southern end of the Kona area.

I stumbled upon this nature trail in the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area called Maka’eo Walking Path and loved the variety of flowers and plants along the way of this easy path. It’s by Kailua Beach and there’s also a skate park and playground nearby. There’s a huge (free) parking lot as well.

Much of the shopping in Kona is clustered together just off Hawaii Belt Road and you’ll find a few different shopping malls and a string of restaurants along Ali’i Drive. I had to stop in for lunch at one of my old favorites, Kona Brewing Company, and the pizza and beer hit the spot. Although I usually love local farmer’s markets, I decided to skip the Kona Farmer’s Market after I read several reviews about low turnout of items for sale after covid. However, I discovered a new place, a local running store, Big Island Running Company. It’s small inside, like many local running stores are, but they had a decent selection of unique items, like the running hat I bought with their logo on it, “Run Big” with a graphic of the island of Hawaii.

As much as I enjoyed my time in Kona on this vacation, I was glad I chose to spread my wings and explore other areas of the Big Island and stay in Waimea. Kona is perhaps a tad more central to exploring the island than Waimea, but not by much and I’ll happily drive a little more in exchange for less crowded and less expensive.

Have you been to Kona on the Big Island? What was your experience like? Is this on your bucket list?

Happy travels!


Mistakes I’ve Made at Half Marathons

Mistakes? Oh, I’ve made plenty of mistakes at half marathons over the years. However, I prefer to call them learning moments because I learned what not to do and my hope is to pass along this knowledge so that others may learn from my mistakes. Here are just a few of the many mistakes I’ve made at races.

  • Not fueling properly

This one took me several years to get “right.” I started out not fueling enough and would run out of energy after running for around an hour. After I figured out I needed to run long training runs with something to give me quick energy (simple carbs), I tried gels and they made me nauseous. Bloks likewise made me nauseous and sometimes also have diarrhea (the absolute worst when you’re on a long run and are desperately searching for a bathroom).

Finally I discovered Honeystinger products. First I experimented with their waffles and found they were good for runs up to an hour but I needed more for longer runs and I just didn’t like eating them while running. I really liked the taste and convenience of their chews so I experimented further with those. Before starting on a run longer than an hour, I eat three chews then have two chews after thirty minutes. At the next thirty minutes (so after 60 minutes of running), I have three chews, then two chews thirty minutes later, and three chews after another thirty minutes if I’m going to be out longer than 2 hours. For a two hour run I will (sometimes) end up having about 10 chews. If I just wasn’t feeling up to more chews, I would occasionally skip some, usually around 90 minutes but often at the two hour point. Before a half marathon I have a waffle within 15 minutes of the race start time, along with three chews, and continue my alternate schedule of chews every thirty minutes after I begin running. I find it easier to put my chews in a plastic bag and stash it in the front pocket of my Nathan running vest for easy access.

Nuun and Honey Stinger are a good combination that works for me!

Fueling is more than just what you eat, though, and it also includes hydration with electrolytes. For runs more than 60 minutes, since I have a high sweat rate, I need more than plain water; I need sodium, potassium, and magnesium as well. I started out making my own by adding honey and salt to water and putting that in water bottles when I ran. That worked fine but I realized I wanted more of a flavor (plus there was no potassium or magnesium) so I tried Gatorade and Powerade. I wasn’t happy with the long list of ingredients and how much sugar was in these. Finally I discovered Nuun hydration products and I’ve been using those for what feels like a decade at least.

Nuun makes several kinds of hydration products but my favorite ones are Sport for shorter runs or when I get back from a particularly challenging run where I lost a lot of sweat. For long runs, I make some Nuun Endurance and put that in my water bottles which I put in my Nathan running vest. When I have my Honey Stinger chews, I’ll take a long drag of Nuun along with them and that combination works well for me.

  • Starting out too fast/getting caught up with the energy of the running crowd

This one is an easy trap to fall prey to. You’re excited about running a race, everyone around you is also excited, and for many people, it’s their first time running a race, or maybe even their third time but the point is, the experience is still fairly new. You’re trucking along, feeling great for the first few miles and you think to yourself, “I could continue at this pace for maybe even the rest of the race. I feel great!” and then it hits you around mile 6 that no, you can’t continue at that pace. It’s too fast for you to sustain and your body starts slowing down. If the course is hilly or it’s hot and humid, starting out too fast will come back to bite you hard. By not reserving some energy for later when either the course begins to get challenging or your body begins to fatigue, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment later in the race.

Even though it may seem tough mentally, you will benefit from holding back in the first few miles of the race regardless of how “amazing” you feel. Just think how strong you’ll feel when you’re able to pass all of those people who ran past you in the beginning of the race when you’re hitting mile 11 or 12 and those people who started out too fast are now walking.

  • Not dressed properly for weather conditions

Weather can change quickly so being prepared for the weather on race day can be a challenge if you’re traveling to a race. I learned that when you’re in the mountains, even in the summer, if a storm blows in suddenly, the temperature can easily drop by as much as 20 degrees from one day to the other. In the winter, extreme temperature changes can be even more drastic.

Challenging doesn’t mean impossible, however, you simply need to pack a little more running clothes unless you are more of a cold weather runner. For me, I tend to fare better in warmer temperatures so for a summer race in the mountains I like to bring shorts and a short-sleeve shirt, along with back-up capris and long-sleeve shirt in case of those quick temperature drops. I might even consider bringing a buff and lightweight gloves if the predicted temperature at the race start is already on the cool side of a summer race, in case it drops even more.

I was so cold at this race in Utah I never fully warmed up even though I was dressed properly!

If you know you warm up quickly when you run but it will be chilly at the race start, you might want to bring a jacket, hat, and pants that you can either hand off to a non-running friend or family member right before the race starts or put in your gear check bag if that’s offered. My daughter is the opposite from me when it comes to dressing for the weather at races and she fares better in colder temperatures. For races in cold weather, what works best for her is to wear a jacket to the race and remove it just before the race starts, and she’ll run in shorts and a tank top even when it’s in the 30’s. Meanwhile, I would be dressed in running tights, long-sleeve pullover, hat, gloves, and have a buff around my neck and I would run the race in all of that. Find what works for you in advance before the race.

For hot weather, make sure you’re not over-dressed but this is more difficult than when it’s cold because there’s only so much clothing you can remove. Many women like running in just a sports bra but test that out on training runs. In fact, you should test out all of your running gear before race day to make sure everything feels the same after wearing it for a couple of hours or more as it did when you put it on. Sometimes bottoms will tend to bunch up around the thighs or the waist band will pull down after you’ve been running for a while. You don’t want to discover this on race day. Sports bras often chafe, especially on hot days so test different sports bras as well as different lubrications like Squirrels’ Nut Butter, BodyGlide, Vasoline, or others.

  • Not wearing appropriate running shoes

When I first started running, I just wore whatever athletic shoes I happened to have. When I was a kid, it wasn’t a problem but as I got older, I saw just how important having good running shoes is when I developed shin splints in college. I have no doubt they were caused by wearing old, run-down athletic shoes.

If you have a locally-owned athletic store where you live, see if they do running shoe fittings to determine the best type of shoe for your feet. I would skip the big box athletic stores for this, because at least in my experience, they don’t have qualified people for this. People in local running stores are happy to talk shoes with you all day and they’re trained to know what they’re talking about, plus many stores have cool gadgets that measure things like your arches and more.

So many things went wrong at this race in New Mexico, but I had to just go with it!
  • Putting too hard of expectations on yourself for a race

One race won’t define your life. Things often happen that are out of our control on race day and even before the race that can alter your performance in a race. You get sick, the weather is unseasonably warm, a storm rolls in and it’s cold and rainy, you didn’t sleep well for the past week, you miss a turn on the race course, and on and on. Life happens. If you put so much pressure on yourself for a goal time and you see during the race that you won’t be able to reach that goal, it’s good to have a plan b (and plan c). I’ve had many races where I wanted to finish in x amount of time and the course was more difficult than I thought it would be or I was having stomach issues or I just wasn’t feeling that great and I had to alter my goals. If you go into a race with multiple levels of goals, it will make it easier to drop down to your b goal if you already have one in mind. Preferably your b and c goals shouldn’t be linked to a specific time but more general like “finish with a smile on my face” or “not die.”

I’m sure I’ve made plenty of other mistakes at half marathons but these are the first ones that come to mind. What are some mistakes you’ve made at half marathons or other distance races? Have you also made some of the same mistakes I made at races?

Happy running!


Exploring Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii

The region of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii lies on the northeastern part of the island and is quite different in many ways from the other regions. Hilo used to be a bustling fishing and farming town and evolved into an industrial area for the sugar cane farms. With its annual rainfall of 127 inches of rain per year, Hilo is the wettest city in the United States. This is in stark contrast to Kona, which lies to the southwest and only gets around 26 inches of rain per year.

It may come as no surprise given all that rainfall that Hilo is famous for a couple of things: waterfalls and rainforests. There are a couple of rainforests you can visit but I went to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden. When you’re driving to this place and are getting close, you immediately feel like you’re in another world. There is an earthy smell in the air, there’s greenery all around, the air feels heavy with moisture, and the roads are narrow switchbacks with one-lane bridges. My daughter was sleeping in the car pretty much from the time we left Waikoloa Village and she when she awoke, we were about 5 minutes from the Bioreserve and Garden. Her eyes got big and she exclaimed, “Whoa! Where are we?!”

Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden is open most days except major holidays from 9 am to 5 pm and costs $25 per adult. You can also buy wipes with bug spray when you buy your tickets, which I read online by others is recommended and I bought them but I didn’t see any insects while we were there. There’s a small gift shop with the typical shirts, mugs, and a few other items. Other than the steep walkway at the beginning, the paved trail is easy and is well-marked. Each area is marked with numbers and you can follow along with the guide they give you. I loved seeing all of the flowers and plants and was amazed at the variety growing in the garden. Apparently there are over 2000 plants contained in the 20 acres of the bioreserve. This was one of my favorite places we visited on the Big Island and I highly recommend it.

Another scenic park in Hilo is Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens with Japanese Gardens said to be the largest outside of Japan. There’s also Kaumana Caves, which are giant lava tubes you can walk through; bring a flashlight and wear sturdy shoes. A popular spot is Rainbow Falls, although if there’s no rainbow, like when I was there, it may seem a bit over-rated. Nearby Rainbow Falls is Boiling Pots, another area with waterfalls that we didn’t spend much time at, as it’s only a viewing platform but no trails. Richardson Ocean Park is a popular spot to go snorkeling in Hilo and has a black sand beach.

Rainbow Falls, still a beautiful waterfall even if there’s no rainbow

Another one of my favorite things to do in Hilo was visit the Hilo Farmer’s Market. We bought a white pineapple, which I was told by someone who lives in Hawaii is sweeter than the yellow or gold pineapples, and indeed it was when I cut into it later that evening. There are basically two areas of the farmer’s market, one with fresh produce and another with other goods like koa wood products, soaps, jewelry, and other locally-made products.

There are a couple of restaurants and a food truck near the Farmer’s Market and a shave ice place. Eat at Poke N’ Sides (they have much more than just poke so don’t be put off by the name if you don’t like poke) but skip the shave ice place next door. Instead go to Wilson’s By the Bay for shave ice, just a short walk from Poke N’ Sides. I read that Wilson’s has the best shave ice in all of Hawaii, and while I have tried my fair share I haven’t tried anywhere near all of the places, but I have to say it’s the best shave ice I’ve had anywhere.

A word about shave ice. This is not shaved ice, nor is it anything like a snow cone, when made properly. True Hawaiian shave ice can rarely be found on the mainland but I did manage to find a place in Florida that although I was skeptical, they had the real deal there. The main difference in Hawaiian shave ice is it’s made by shaving a block of ice, versus using crushed ice for a snow cone. The difference is a lighter, almost fluffy texture rather than with crushed ice that you still have to chew and will have small chunks of ice. The last time I was in Hawaii, when I went to the islands of Kauai and Oahu, I learned the best shave ice, in my opinion, is made with macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom, shave ice in the middle, and sweet cream drizzled on top, aka “mac nut on bottom with sweet cream on top.” My personal favorite syrup combination is coconut, lime, and pineapple but I also like many others. Also, plan on a HUGE serving and ditch your diet for the day. I don’t even want to know how many calories there are in a shave ice with the ice cream on the bottom and sweetened condensed milk on top.

This shave ice was ENORMOUS but oh, so good!

If it’s just to rainy for you to spend much time outdoors in Hilo, there are some museums you can explore. The Lyman House Memorial Museum, also known as the Lyman Museum and Lyman House, is a history museum built in 1838. Admission for the Lyman Museum is divided into two separate bookings: the Lyman Museum admission (self-guided tour, $7) and the Mission House Tour (guided tour, $3). Mokupāpapa Discovery Center is an aquarium and educational center. It’s small so you can get through everything fairly quickly. The Pacific Tsunami Museum is a museum dedicated to the history of the April 1, 1946 Pacific tsunami and the May 23, 1960 Chilean tsunami which devastated much of the east coast of the Big Island, especially Hilo. There are limited hours Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday and admission is $8 per adult. Finally, there’s the Imiloa Astronomy Center with a planetarium and exhibits about Hawaiian culture and history. Admission seemed a bit pricey to me ($19 for adults) and I read it’s on the small side, so I skipped it.

You can easily see the highlights of Hilo in a day, or two, depending on whether you go to any of the beaches or museums. I had never been to Hilo before because I honestly didn’t realize everything there was to do there but I was glad I went and would go back again to explore a little more and maybe spend more time at the beaches. Still, I most likely wouldn’t spend more than a day. Also, when I was there, it didn’t rain at all the entire day but maybe I just got lucky. We did come prepared with rain jackets just in case.

You can read my other posts on my recent trip to Hawaii here: Hawaii, “The Big Island,” Third Time’s a Charm While Discovering Waimea, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Have you been to Hilo? If so, what did you do and see there? Would you like to go someday?

Happy travels!


Book Review- Born to Run 2. The Ultimate Training Guide by Christopher McDougall and Eric Orton

When I heard Born to Run 2 was coming out, I was excited to get my hands on a copy. I had read Born to Run when it came out more than a decade ago and loved the stories and characters in that book. For anyone who hasn’t read Born to Run, it’s more of a story about the Tarahumara people who live deep in the canyons of Mexico and who run seemingly effortless in flimsy sandals. The book spawned the enormous barefoot running industry. I’m surely not doing the book justice because that wasn’t the author’s intention and there’s much more to it than the involvement of shoes, so if you haven’t read it, I recommend reading it for yourself.

I heard McDougall speaking on a podcast about this follow-up book and he explained why he wanted to write this book. He said he kept getting compliments on Born to Run and people asked how they should begin barefoot running or sometimes just running in general and he had no answer for them. Although he was himself a runner for many years, he didn’t have enough sound advice to give others on how to take up running. Thus, the origin of the book.

Born to Run 2 is by and large a training guide, as is in the title. There are illustrated pages on how to prepare your body to efficiently be a runner. The authors call some of these exercises “movement snacks.” They are meant to be done to prep your mind and body using playful and easy range-of-motion activities that will alert you to any hidden or maybe not so hidden trouble spots. Although they are primarily written to be done with a partner, to incorporate the community aspect of running, they could just as easily be done solo. I like that there are also explanations of the purpose of each exercise.

Part 2 in the book is called The Free Seven. Diet is discussed in-depth but with other athletes’ points of views and their stories and includes a variety of recipes. There are leg and foot strengthener exercises, a section on running form and a promised “Five-Minute Fix.” Music as a way to monitor your cadence is discussed, which I thought was a creative way to cover that topic.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Born to Run book without a section on footwear. I like how it’s not just MacDougall and Orton’s opinions on running shoes, however, and there is space for other people’s opinions when it comes to running shoes.

There were a couple of sections I found surprising, like the information about using scooters as a form of cross-training. I also found the story about the Amish running couple interesting. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is how stories are intertwined throughout, so it’s not just another training book on running. There are stories that relate back to the particular topic at hand and many of the stories have the theme of “fun,” in that running should be fun or otherwise why do it.

The book is rounded out with discussions on running with your dog and finding a running community. Like the rest of the book, there are heart-warming stories including people running with rescue dogs (that are adopted after the run) and the importance of running clubs. There are tips and advice whether you want to form your own running club or join one. The authors emphasize the importance of the community aspect of running and how it’s immensely more fun (back to that word) to run with others than just by yourself all the time.

A story is told toward the end of the book about how Caballo Blanco aka Micah True, from “Born to Run” was missing and eventually found dead in a canyon. A section in the book reads as follows, “No wonder a rebel like Caballo loved running so much. If you were humble enough to go back to basics, and learn from the quietest teachers in the world, you would soar…. Follow in his footsteps. Run freee.”

This book, in addition to the two-week “reset” diet and many exercises, also includes a QR code to download a 90-day program app. The app has videos and will track your progress. The 90-day Run Free Program is also printed in the back of the book and has each day of each week broken down into food (for the first two weeks), fitness, form, and focus run with the appropriate exercises or information for each.

Finally, there’s one last section of the book that seemed out of place to me or perhaps like it was included as an after thought but is nonetheless an important subject: injuries. The most common runner injuries are listed, like plantar fasciitis with a description of how it feels with a diagram of where on the body the cause is and where the pain usually radiates. There are possible causes listed, remedies, and long-term strategies.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. When I told some running friends at my run club I just finished reading it, one of them rolled her eyes but after explaining what the book is about she said she “might actually consider reading it, just so long as it’s not another book about minimalist running.” Of course there is some element of minimalist shoe running in Born to Run 2, but that’s only a tiny fraction of the book. I look at it like a helpful book for beginner runners to help them get started on their running journey or for more seasoned runners it’s a book with plenty of useful reminders of exercises and other things we all could spend more time on to keep us running healthy.

Have you read Born to Run 2? If not, did you read the first one? Are you interested in reading this “follow-up” (although I hesitate to call it that)?

Happy running!


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